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Freelance Builder Pay Trends: May 2019

Hudson Contract delivers the most accurate indications of pay trends across the construction industry, using payroll data for over 2,200 construction companies to publish the average pay for a spectrum of 17 different trades now split across ten regions.

The reality of self-employment has eaten into earnings this month, with freelance builders roughly £50 a week worse off than they were during April.

It’s a sharper-than-usual drop of 5.5% on average, with those in the North-East particularly feeling the pinch. “Their earnings have spiralled down by 8.4%, which is one of the biggest monthly drops we’ve seen anywhere for a long, long time,” says Hudson Contract Managing Director Ian Anfield.

“Some clients are telling us there is less work in the pipeline, which is allowing them to take a more controlled approach to ongoing projects, and as a result, their freelancers are doing fewer hours. We’re also seeing smaller firms pricing up work for larger contractors to reflect the risk of dealing with the financially troubled outsourcing sector.”

National Weekly Average Earnings May 2019: £836
Region May 2019 Average Change from April 2019
North East £700.00 -8.4%
North West £798.00 -4.7%
Yorkshire & Humber £773.00 -5.6%
East Midlands £847.00 -6.1%
West Midlands £878.00 -6.0%
Wales £766.00 -2.9%
East of England £873.00 -5.9%
London £853.00 -5.1%
South East £845.00 -4.6%
South West £736.00 -6.5%

To view our interactive pay trends map click here

With the national fall in earnings, no individual trade gained this month and the ones that lost most are:

  • Demolition & Wrecking: -11.0%
    Reversing after three months of improved earnings
  • Surfacing Contractors: -7.7%
    Particular lack of demand in Wales and London
  • Bricklaying: -7.0%
    Back to rates last seen in January

Looking at the bigger picture, while housebuilding expanded last month, civil engineering declined for the fourth successive month and and commercial remained subdued.

“Brexit-related anxiety continues to dominate decision making and project authorisations,” Ian Anfield observes.  “The latest IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction Total Activity Index survey highlights the sharpest drop in construction employment for six-and-a-half years, along with cautious recruitment activity.

“It’s not been a good month for the economy, the industry, or for freelancers.  But even so, even after this month’s fall, labour-only subbies are still earning the equivalent of £43,000 a year, as against the average UK salary of £29,000.”

Hudson Contract’s ‘Window on the Construction Industry’ gives you hard figures and data that is not available from any other source, with pay averages that reflect the amounts paid by a sample number of businesses – large and small – to specific trades during May 2019.

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